4 Components of a Challenger Sale

May 9, 2014 | Roger and Susie Engelau

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reviewing The Challenger Sale—an innovative, and I think, ground-breaking approach to selling where you “challenge” and “shake up” your customers and prospects as you educate them about not only your products and services but about their own industry and its future possibilities.

It’s grounded in thought leadership as opposed to just product knowledge.  It’s customer-based and insight-driven, challenging your prospects’ paradigms and helping them see things in new ways.

(Whatever you do, don’t forget to read The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson to get the entire methodology.)

Since I started this series on the blog, I’ve received several questions from readers, wondering what specifically a Challenger Sale looks like.

Here are 4 basic components…

  1. Shift your attitude; begin to see the purpose of your sales call to challenge the client’s assumptions.  Before you even begin, understand that you have knowledge and expertise that your prospect doesn’t have—knowledge that can help your client revolutionize the way they do business and find greater and greater success.  Understand that people are hesitant to change, even when it’s in their best interest, so an important part of your role as salesperson is to help them make a paradigm shift large enough that taking action is necessary.
  2. The more the prospect resists, the more you may have to push to change his or her thinking.  Traditional sales models want you to avoid uncomfortable conversations.  The truth is, being challenged is always uncomfortable. But hard-won insights are worth it.  This doesn’t mean you become belligerent, adversarial, or obnoxious; instead, you push back appropriately, with respect and genuine concern, as a great teacher would, to help them see why the status quo isn’t good enough. The real test of whether you care about someone is not how nice you are—that’s easy. The real test is whether you’re willing to do the hard work of pulling them into the future with you.
  3. The sales meeting is NOT a pitch, it’s a conversation.  This is a meeting between equals.  You aren’t there to beg for the buy or wow anyone.  You’re there to educate, teach, and provide compelling enough insight that your prospect can see for himself that what you’re saying is good stuff.  Think of yourself as a professional consultant, more than a sales person—provide valuable insights the customer would’ve been willing to pay for.
  4. The conversation is prompted by a story.  Story-telling is the way human beings make sense of the world around us.  In this case, the story you’ll tell is about your prospect.  You’re not going to tell them about how this or that client used your products and services to generate $XX in revenue.  Instead, paint a picture of their future.   Using key industry insights, show them a new opportunity they’re missing.  Identify a threat they haven’t even considered yet.  Teach them, train them, provide value and actionable information.

As you make the paradigm-rocking shift yourself toward Challenger Selling, remember that this is all about results—results for you, and results for your customer.  So be brave and bold.  Take a deep breath, challenge yourself, and dive in.